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7 months on, ban on social media lifted in J&K

7 months on, ban on social media lifted in J&K

New Delhi/Jammu: Removing a ban on social media platforms after seven months, Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday allowed access to all websites on 2G mobile data services and fixed-line Internet in the Union Territory till March 17.

Earlier, only access to white-listed sites was allowed as the service was restored for a week on January 25 and subsequently extended from time to time, after being snapped on August 5 last year when the Centre abrogated the special status to the erstwhile state and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

The fresh order was issued by Principal Secretary, Home, Shaleen Kabra after assessment of the impact of telecom services regulation on the overall security situation and maintenance of public order and reports of law enforcement agencies.

The order said the Internet speed on mobile data service will be restricted to 2G only and the postpaid SIM cardholders would continue to be provided access to the Internet.

However, Kabra said the services would not be made available on pre-paid SIM cards unless verified as per the norms applicable for postpaid connections.

As the period of extension of services was set to expire on Wednesday, the Home Department ordered that 2G mobile data service and fixed-line Internet connectivity with certain restrictions will now continue till March 17, unless modified earlier.

About fixed-line Internet connectivity, the Principal Secretary said it would continue to be made available with Mac Binding, which essentially means to enforce a client machine to work from a particular Internet Protocol address.

"It is further directed that the access/communication facilities provided by the government Viz e-terminals/Internet kiosks apart from special arrangements for tourists, students, traders etc shall continue," Kabra said in the order.

He asked the Inspector Generals of Police, Kashmir and Jammu divisions, to ensure communication of these directions to service providers forthwith and also ensure implementation of the directions with immediate effect.

While continuing the ban on social media, authorities had last month said anti-national elements and people across the border continue to "misuse" these networking sites allowing peer-to-peer communication and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were asked to ensure access to 1,674 white-listed sites only and not to any social media applications.

The restrictions on mobile and Internet services were partially eased after the Supreme Court said in January that access to the Internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution and asked the government to review the curbs.

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